Updated: May 13, 2019
Last month, Monday, April 15 to be exact, I received a text that said, “I read your blog and want to talk about it later today if you have time.” I responded immediately and the date was set to meet up. That text was from JaMarko Etheridge who I’ve known for over 15 years because he took my sister to her senior prom.
I had no idea what we were going to talk about, but I knew we shared something in common, we both lost our mother.
It’s been seven years since Marko lost his mother, Ms. Madeline Adams. I had the privilege of meeting her on numerous occasions, once when my sister stopped by to visit him and when she dined with us at our family restaurant.
When I saw Marko, I immediately knew something was different. I could feel the positive energy radiating from him. He exuded a man who knew who he was, where he was going, and what he wasn’t going to tolerate. During our discussion we talked about everything. Nothing was off limits. There are many moments that stood out, but I had to know how he got to where he is today.
SOQWEENLY: How would you say you coped with losing your mom initially?
MARKO: “Initially I didn't cope with it. I swallowed it and buried it internally. The day she died it instantly became all business. From planning the funeral to you having to smile and listen to everyone talking about how much of a great person she was and how sorry they are for your loss. There was no time to process what happened.”
I could relate to Marko 100%. I too turned to work and started to bury myself in it because I needed to focus on something else. I ultimately burned myself out and vividly remember have a breakdown screaming I can’t do this anymore. Marko shared a similar story with me where one day he had a breakdown, and his cousin had to come over and console him. He knew something had to change or it wasn’t going to end well.
SOQWEENLY: What made you go to therapy?
MARKO: “After my mom died a few months later my supervisor at my job died and the company brought in grief counselors. The lady I was speaking with asked me how I felt. I told her I didn't feel anything and she asked why not. I told her about all the people that I had recently lost (cousins, uncle, mom) and she suggested I see someone on a regular basis. So I gave it a try not really understanding what I was getting myself into.”
Let me be the first person to tell you, therapy saved my life. You may have to go through a few therapists to find the right one for you but it’s worth it. Furthermore, I urge people to go to therapy before they experience a tragic loss. You don’t have to experience something traumatic before you speak with a professional. If you’re reading this and have been thinking about going to therapy, I urge you to go. If you don’t know where to look, send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll help you. Therapy will lift the burden and pain to enable you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
SOQWEENLY: When did you turn to fitness and why?
MARKO: “I've always been into fitness in some shape or form. Six months after she transitioned, I noticed I was only going to work and coming home. So, I said let me do something else and bought some weights for my house. Even though I was working out I was still doing it at home. I decided to get a gym membership and actually lift weights instead of playing basketball.”
Marko has competed in two NPC Physique Competitions and placed 2nd in class.
Along with fitness, Marko invested in himself mentally. Upon entering his home he has tons of books and recommended New York Times Bestseller The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. I received my copy last week from Amazon and can’t wait to read it. I shared in an Instagram post about the importance limiting your availability to everyone. I call them office hours and he has a similar practice. Marko dedicates the early mornings to prayer, meditation, and fitness before he starts his day.
SOQWEENLY: Why are you opening up about your journey now?
MARKO: “Because of the healing that has taken place in my life. It is AWESOME!!! By starting out with grief counseling it opened up sooooo many other wounds that needed to be healed that I never recognized. From abandonment issues, father issues, childhood trauma, and relationship issues. I just know without a shadow of doubt that my experience can help someone who may be going through the same thing. I understand now since I’ve been in this healing stage for a few years that it's a never-ending process, but the process is not permanent.“
"I just know without a shadow of doubt that my experience can help someone who may be going through the same thing."
SOQWEENLY: What's some advice you'd give to someone who's lost a loved one?
MARKO: “Pain is temporary, but understanding is forever. It's hard to lose someone but you must continue living. Don't let your pain become your normal.“
In life we all have choices. That’s the phrase at the end of Marko’s email and it made me smile. We have the choice to allow what has happened to us not define us. We have the choice to change the narrative that will break the negative family cycles for our children and grandchildren. Marko chose to honor his mother’s legacy by making one choice, seek the help he needed for the sake of his daughter who he credits as the one who saved his life.
Marko, thank you so much for trusting and opening up to me. Our discussion was eye-opening, therapeutic, and I’m so proud of your growth.
Happy heavenly Mother’s Day Ms. Madeline Adams and happy Mother’s Day Susie Ann Amin. I love you mama.